Land defender Stacy Gallagher sentenced to 90 days for smudging near Trans Mountain pipeline construction site

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: Gallagher was sentenced to 90 days in jail. Photo by Rueben George.

Indigenous land defender Stacy Gallagher has been sentenced to 90 days in prison by Judge Shelley Fitzpatrick of the B.C. Supreme Court.

This Vice news article reports that the sentence relates to Gallagher conducting ceremony in November-December 2019 near the Trans Mountain pipeline route despite an indefinite injunction prohibiting people within five metres of two work sites.

It was also in December 2019 when the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination passed this resolution that called on Canada “to immediately cease construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project and cancel all permits, until free, prior and informed consent is obtained.”

The sentence was also handed down despite a directive announced by the British Columbia Prosecution Service on January 15 of this year.

That policy says that custody for Indigenous offenders should be recommended only as a last resort for sentences less than two years.

Coast Protectors says: “The Crown ignored this new directive and continued to seek 90 days imprisonment for Gallagher’s peaceful prayer, smudging, singing and dancing for Mother Earth in ceremony at the TMX Burnaby tank farm.”

The Vice article also notes: “Both prisons that Gallagher could be sent to, North Fraser Pretrial Centre and Fraser Regional Correctional Centre, have been in the news for recent COVID outbreaks.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has stated that due to the pandemic “imprisonment should be a measure of last resort.”

And her spokesperson Rupert Colville has urged States to release “every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners, and those detained for critical, dissenting views.”

In this case it is also the State that owns the Trans Mountain pipeline that is being built without free, prior and informed consent.

The human rights organization Global Witness has also highlighted that governments should “safeguard the rights of defenders and protesters to free assembly and speech, as well as potential recourse to civil disobedience.”

PBI-Canada expresses its profound concern about the sentencing of Gallagher.

Photo: Gallagher speaking on the steps of the courthouse to those assembled in solidarity with him today. Photo by Rueben George.

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